Every November, I assemble with a collection of fellow coots, geezers, and codgers to hunt deer in northern Maine. There are not a lot of deer up there, and if you see a buck you’ve had a good week, and if you get one you’ve had a hell of a good week. In 10 years I’ve collected two, which is probably about average.

However, one of our party hunted for nine years and never got anything. One thing and another went wrong and at the end of every camp he went home empty-handed. This year, however, his luck changed. He got a buck that weighed 239 ½ pounds with its guts out, which probably put the animal at around 300 on the hoof. The neck was colossal; the antlers went around 140 B&C, which for up there, is very good. In short, it was one hell of a deer after all those years.

There seems to be a strange kind of balance to hunting that says if you put in the time, eventually things go your way. When I hunted elk every season I had a stretch of seventeen years when I never got one. Either they were scarce or I did something wrong, of fate was just against me. Then I got elk in five or six successive seasons including one that would go into Boone and Crockett.

I’ve seen it again and again; years of coming up empty-handed are suddenly ended with something spectacular in the crosshairs. But you have to put in the time.